The Department of Environment has served an Urgent Works Notice on the owner of 20 Crawford Square, a listed building in the Clarendon Street Conservation Area of Derry.
This tall, late Victorian building is on the Built Heritage at Risk in Northern Ireland (BHARNI) register and, despite repeated attempts by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to encourage the owner to take action, no works have been carried out.
The Department has now issued a notice which outlines the action it will take to carry out emergency works if the owner does not initiate these within seven days.
The notice is one of a number planned this year across Northern Ireland following the Heritage Crime Summit.
Welcoming the move, Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “This is a tangible commitment to Derry’s rich heritage. Our listed buildings are jewels from the past which need to be conserved for now and future generations.
“Once gone, they can never be brought back. That is why, following the Heritage Crime summit that I organised, I provided extra funding to ensure direct action such as this could be taken to protect our listed buildings.
“What I and the DOE are about is creating a better place to live, work and invest. Listed buildings attract much tourism and there is always the potential to develop this further by securing and preserving them.
“I am determined we do that and this Urgent Works Notice is an example of that determination.”
No 20 Crawford Square is one of four listed buildings of a designed terrace at the upper end of a formal square in the Clarendon Street Conservation Area.
All four had particularly fine internal plasterwork at the time of listing and are also notable for their external detail and for the architectural character they provide to their surroundings.
Their brickwork, for example, is tuck pointed – a quite rare technique where a brick facade is washed in red lime wash and white lime pointing is used to create a very regular appearance.
The DOE move has been welcomed by SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood who serves as Assembly Private Secretary in the Department of the Environment.
He said: “The loss of Hamilton’s factory last week gave voice to the depth of feeling in Derry, a voice which wishes to preserve the heritage which has been gifted to us from previous generations. It is essential that no more listed buildings are allowed to slip into a state of disrepair from which they cannot be restored.”